Hong Kong seeks bigger role for Turkey in Silk Road megaproject

| February 17, 2017

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“Hong Kong, as a global financial center, could serve Turkish firms in many areas, including fundraising through IPOs and bond issuances, consultancy as well as solutions in legal disputes for development projects as part of the Belt and Road.

Hong Kong looks forward to consolidating its role as a financial and logistics hub for Turkish companies looking to integrate with the multi-billion-dollar trade and transport project the “Belt and Road” as well as branching out into regional markets, local representatives say.

Hong Kong plays a pivotal role in connecting the rest of the world with China and Southeast Asia, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) Deputy Representative Drew Lai told Today’s Zaman last week in İstanbul, calling on Turkish businesses to benefit from Hong Kong’s financial expertise and seize the opportunities offered by the Belt and Road project. As part of the project also known as “One Belt, One Road,” Beijing seeks to create a modern Silk Road to boost trade by connecting countries on three continents from China to Europe.

Last month, China’s Export-Import Bank said it had more than 520 billion yuan ($78.93 billion) in outstanding loans to countries involved in the One Belt, One Road megaproject at the end of 2015. The loans cover over 1,000 projects in 49 countries, the bank said. The recently launched Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), of which Turkey is also a partner, is also expected to back further projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. The HKETO and the Frankfurt-based Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) have recently stepped up efforts to introduce Turkish firms to opportunities that Hong Kong may offer, especially regarding the Belt and Road. The project foresees upgrading transport and trade infrastructure in as many as 65 countries involved, and Turkey remains a key port of call on its route.

“Hong Kong, as a global financial center, could serve Turkish firms in many areas, including fundraising through IPOs and bond issuances, consultancy as well as solutions in legal disputes for development projects as part of the Belt and Road,” Lai told Today’s Zaman on the sidelines of an event launching the Chinese new year in İstanbul. The event also shared details of the Hong Kong government’s 2016 policy address which announced the establishment of a high-level steering committee that will focus on policies for the Belt and Road this year.

Also mentioning Hong Kong’s importance for Turkish firms, HKTDC Europe Director Stephen Wong told Today’s Zaman that over 100 Turkish-owned businesses exhibited their goods — mostly from the food, jewelry and fashion industries — in 35 separate trade fairs in Hong Kong last year. Wong said the Hong Kong government will hold a one-day summit on May 18 this year to assess an overview of Belt and Road initiatives from 65 counties in their respective markets. “We are encouraging more Turkish firms and officials to put Hong Kong on their radar, not only for the Belt and Road, but also as a re-export and distribution center for the Chinese and Asian markets,” he added.

Back in June last year, HKETO and HKTDC jointly organized a business seminar in İstanbul, telling 86 local businesspeople about opportunities in Hong Kong and plan similar events this year.

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